Evidence base for preventing homelessness and rough sleeping strategy

2. Buckinghamshire and its population

Buckinghamshire is a new unitary authority, bringing together services previously run by the four district councils (South Buckinghamshire, Aylesbury Vale, Wycombe, Chilterns) and Buckinghamshire County Council. The authority covers an area stretching from Greater London and Berkshire to the south, Oxfordshire to the West, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire to the north and east. The area has a number of market towns, including Aylesbury, Buckingham and High Wycombe. Over a quarter of the area falls within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a further third is covered by the Metropolitan Green Belt.

The area has low unemployment and higher than average incomes, with strong links to London and the Oxford to Cambridge arc. This also results in higher than average house prices and rents.

According to the 2014 mid-year estimates, Buckinghamshire had a slightly higher than average proportion of 5 – 19 year olds when compared to England; 18.8% compared to 17.7%. There is a lower proportion of adults aged 20 – 39, 23.2% compared to 27%. This will include those who go away for higher education and may also include younger people moving to larger urban areas/cities for work. The Corporate Plan 2020 – 2023 (see below) states that 50% of young people go to university, 95% of these outside the area, many of whom do not return. There is also a higher proportion of adults aged 40 – 59, 28.9% compared to 26.7%, suggesting either that some of those who have moved away return or others in this age group are attracted to Buckinghamshire because of the lifestyle it offers. The number of older people living in Buckinghamshire is expected to increase in line with averages for England as a whole: a 23% increase in those aged 65+ and a 42% increase in those aged 85+.

On the whole, these differences are not significant from a homelessness perspective. In theory the slightly lower proportion of the population in the 20 – 39 age group could result in a lower number of homelessness approaches, but this is balanced out by the high cost of housing in the area relative to wages/salaries. Although the number and proportion of older people is expected to increase, very few homelessness approaches come from this age group (both in Buckinghamshire and in England as a whole).